By Russell Sellers, Army Flier StaffOctober 28, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Clergy members from around the state joined post officials at The Landing Oct. 20, to celebrate Clergy Appreciation Month.
The 10th annual celebration is the installation's way of saying "thank you" to those who serve in various churches, synagogues and mosques on and off post, according to Allie Bell-Reddick, Noncommissioned Officer Academy administrative support technician and lead event organizer.
"It's important for us to recognize the men and women of God," she said. "They go the extra mile to serve."
Clergy members came from as far away as Birmingham, Ala., and as near as Enterprise, Daleville and Ozark, Bell-Reddick added.
Paul Phillips, Allen Chapel of Skipperville, Ala., pastor, said he has attended every Clergy Appreciation Month celebration at Fort Rucker since it began.
"It's refreshing to be thanked for what we do, even though that's not why we do it," he said. "We do it for the honor and grace of God."
Phillips said he most looks forward to the atmosphere and camaraderie that comes along with meeting other clergy members from around the state.
"There's a lot of fellowship in talking with members of other denominations," he said. "You can look around the room and find members of so many different types of churches."
Chaplain (Maj.) Abdullah Hulwe, installation Imam, had never experienced the celebration before and said he enjoyed the chance to talk with people from various faiths.
"It was a good chance to mingle and get to know one another," he said. "Coming together makes us stronger as an Army and as a nation."
Chaplain (Col.) Stephen Cook, garrison and installation chaplain, said this year's event would be the last for him as he plans to retire in the coming year. He said he has enjoyed these gatherings more than just about any other on post because of how different it is from the usual military luncheon.
"It's like caring for the caregiver," he said. "Sometimes, we need encouragement, too. The speakers that participate each year have been very good, as well."
Oveta Pearce, Enterprise City Schools Federal Programs director, was the guest speaker for the event and spoke to the attendees about "the power of one."
"Never underestimate the power of one person," she said. "We have come here for the institution, but we've also come to honor the individual. You are beacons of light and pillars of hope. For that, we say 'thank you.'"